As newspapers struggle to evolve in the age of technology, the nation's oldest journalism school wants its students to buy portable gagdets to stay up to date. A new rule at the University of Missouri School of Journalism requires incoming freshmen to buy devices such as Apple's iPhone and the iPod Touch so they can download lectures and do research from a scene such as a plane crash or town council meeting, the Durango Herald reports.
The new rule appears to mark the first time an American university is requiring specific portable electronic devices. But the policy has sparked some debate. Supporters believe the devices will improve learning and give students up-to-the-minute access to information, especially when an "estimated 85 to 90 percent of the university's 30,200 undergraduates already own portable music players."
Opponents worry that students won't want to pay for a portable device, which can cost the same amount as three textbooks. Also, skeptics don't know if students who often use these devices to watch YouTube videos will honor the journalism school's intentions.
"At least 50 colleges and universities nationwide make use of iPods in their programs," according to the school's Web site. It is unclear which schools, if any, make it mandatory or at the students' expense.
"It's like asking an engineer to buy a calculator," said Brian Brooks, associate dean for undergraduate studies. "We are doing this requirement solely to benefit our students' learning."
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